Jane Seymour's absolutely astounding performance is reason enough to watch this all the way through. She is by turns kittenish, sweet, ruthless, self-serving, tormented and tormentor often just flat out evil but always watchable. She is able by small gestures to show Cathy/Kate's internal struggle, at first, wishing to be good but unable to accomplish that since something inside her is intrinsically rotten and finally surrendering her soul to pure villainy. She's a wonder, unfortunately she has not been presented with the opportunity to play this sort of full bodied character since. As for the rest of the show Lloyd Bridges almost matches Jane's work in one of his best latter day portrayals as the stern level headed Samuel. Their shared scene where Cathy is in labor is some of the best acting you will ever see in a miniseries. Soon Tek-Oh is fine as the faithful Lee and Bruce Boxleitner does some good work as the deeply flawed Charles. There are also some nice contributions in smaller roles by fine actors like Howard Duff as the cuckold whore-monger and Anne Baxter, full of brio as the madame Faye. The true weakness of the piece, and it is a big one, is the borderline terrible performance by Timothy Bottoms as Adam. While Cathy/Kate was always the strongest character of the book Adam is its focal point and to have the at best middling Bottoms in the part hurts the story as the stronger actors all but erase him from the screen whenever he shares scenes with them. The second portion is hampered in the same way by Sam Bottoms, although he is better than brother Timothy, and the fact that both he and Hart Bochner plus Karen Allen as Abra are too old for their roles. Still the Cain vs. Abel story at its center is strong enough to hold your interest and Jane's master class in acting compelling. While the James Dean version is also a superior picture with great acting from Julie Harris, Raymond Massey, Jo Van Fleet and him it only covers the second part of the book, for a full rendering of the novel this is about as close to perfect as you are likely to see. Once again Jane is great here, she won many well deserved awards for her work here, don't miss it.
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